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Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, November 18, 2006

American Journalism Review Article

Worthy of it's own post, the American Jorunalism of Review article underscores much of what we have been writing about here at BlogaBarbara. Here's my favorite quote from the article that sums up The Mess nicely:

"Mrs. McCaw never fully understood that she didn't just buy a mouthpiece for her own views," says Linda Strean, News-Press managing editor from 2003 to 2005, now managing editor for Great Schools.net. "It really comes down to a tragic misunderstanding of what the mission of a newspaper should be."

40 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a great article urge all to read it.

11/18/2006 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First rate article, with deep interviews that go way, way beyond the skeletal summary at:

Wiki on News-Press

The American Journalism Review article is far, far better than the Vanity Fair article was. Vanity Fair respects power and privilege too much.

11/18/2006 10:22 AM  
Anonymous AJR LINK said...

Susan, you nailed it! Excellent work.

For link to story, hit the blue stuff above.

11/18/2006 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is the definitive piece on the N-P meltdown. Detailed, well-written, right on the money. Great work. As somebody who's lived through it, I'm very impressed.

It's also Wendy's worst nightmare: a very public truth. That piece is zipping around the web like a virus, and pretty soon anyone with net connection will have read it. And they'll know the truth of what happened. Wonderful.

11/18/2006 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

So where is the link to the URL??

It actually is 2 articles; the Smackdown article (6000+ words) has a link at the top to another one entitled Sound of Silence (600+ words)

Unlike Vanity Fair, AJR was not afraid of the legal threats by NewsSupress, and even taunted them by including the full quotes by Millstein.

11/18/2006 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Linkage said...

and here's the link [copy and paste] to this great article:

http://www.ajr.org/article_printable.asp?id=4236

11/18/2006 11:49 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Ooops. Sorry I forgot the link -- thanks for the help.

11/18/2006 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fine effort. Unfortunately, the article lacks all sides. It's totally Wendy McCaw's fault, but, since the writer wasn't given access to all sides, as a former inmate who is no fan of The Wendy and her minions, I can say the article is internally inconsistent in important parts and could have used more fact checking. AJR gets kudos for guts that Vanity Fair failed to show. The definitive article, or book, has yet to be written. It should be.

11/18/2006 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of rusty old axes being ground anonymously...

11/18/2006 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More BRAVO! anon 10:22a "wiki" and "AJR LINK" work great. Great job on Wiki. Are both Wendy and Laura Schlessinger (Wiki) up to date?

11/18/2006 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to find jobs for the current np folks who need to get out of there...

11/18/2006 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An absorbing, riveting read...don't we who have lived it day by day know, in the end, that the story and the saga are as sad as Don Murphy's tears. So interesting that under it's cloak of rosy beauty Santa Barbara feeds on such dark drama. Did Wendy McCaw REALLY get a standing ovation at the awards dinner last weekend? If so, that says it all...tears and triumph. No longer seduced by the loveliness of this dangerous den, I want to move!

11/18/2006 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a good article.

But help me out here! I have been waiting for someone to comment on Travis Armstrong's description (in his column on Fridfay) of Barney Brantingam's email messages that are still coming to the NewsPress.

Am I missing something here? Do I get the message that T.A. is reading email sent to Barney's old email address? And then describing it and joking about it?

If Barney's email address at the News-Press is still active, it's not Barney's fault or under his control since it is on the News-Press server. This suggests that T.A. is purposefully keeping that address alive to see what dirt he can dig up in messages that are received.

Does anyone else agree with this? Doesn't this sound like grounds for some kind of privacy infringement lawsuit? I realize that the server "belongs" to the News-Press, but don't individuals have some rights about the content of their messages being divulged in a newspaper column?

It's boB here!

11/18/2006 7:46 PM  
Blogger passing-by said...

Most likely Barney's email, past and present, delivered to the NP system is the property of Wendy. That TA keeps the account open, reads the incoming and publishes the content reflects on the man's morals and character. What a shameful column.

With people like WM, the baron, and TA running things the NP is a doomed enterprise. No responsible, professional journalist would take a job there. The editorial positions, which ought to be plum jobs for competent journalists, go largely unfilled after months of advertising. The paper has been reduced to the level of a hobbyist's newsletter. The Montecito Journal has more credibility. RIP SBNP. What a shamem for the community.

11/18/2006 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 7:46 I was thinking the same thing. I think it is a dig at Barney's column in Thursday's Indy, where Barney reveals that Sara Miller McCune told him if she owned the News-Press she would show Travis the door. Travis threw a tantrum via his column. Ho-hum, what else is new?
When will Travis, Wendy, and Nipper realize they are the laughing stock of the community?

11/18/2006 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An absorbing, riveting read...don't we who have lived it day by day know, in the end, that the story and the saga are as sad as Don Murphy's tears. So interesting that under it's cloak of rosy beauty Santa Barbara feeds on such dark drama. Did Wendy McCaw REALLY get a standing ovation at the awards dinner last weekend? If so, that says it all...tears and triumph. No longer seduced by the loveliness of this dangerous den, I want to move!

No one is stopping ya. Buh bye, dark drama queen.

11/18/2006 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to find jobs for the current np folks who need to get out of there..

I heard Towbes has some below minimum wage jobs, pounding nails into affordable housing.

11/18/2006 11:11 PM  
Anonymous now i get it said...

After reading the article, the history of the recent troubles at the Newspress is much clearer. Here's a summary:

1. Jerry Roberts didn't like working with McCaw. He was compelled to use his position to report on her personal matters in ways that might offend her. He then brought in another co-worker that made jokes about McCaw in the newsroom to widen the gap between the employees and McCaw. Roberts helped to create the tension.

2. Travis Armstrong was going against the grain, and taking some gutsy stands on local issues. Roberts and others overdramatized the effect of "having to listen to complaints" -- again furthering the a rift. Armstrong's dedication to keeping tough issues in the spotlight and criticizing politicians was too offensive for those who didn't agree with him. So they decided to campaign against him. When received a DUI, they wanted to repeatedly report it in order to sooth their disdain for his articles.

3. Wendy is so damn rich that the employees, which have been coached to not like her, find her to be an easy target. They refer to her money, her lifestyle and her possessions so frequently that the jealousy seeps through. Stereotyping a person because they are rich is the same as stereotyping someone because they are poor. The disgruntled few seem to have overlooked that fact.

TO SUMMARIZE, the Newspress "mess" is born out of personal grudges and jealousies. People who know how to work the media have worked hard to make this look like a local crisis, and yet -- it is just one big personal attack.

MEANWHILE, the people fight to keep Santa Barbara a beautiful, exceptional and inspiring place to live.

Thanks, Travis, for being true.

..and to Wendy, I say, "Hang in there, and don't let the critics get you down. Take the high road. the only power they have over you is what you give them."

11/18/2006 11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know the legalities on business emails, but from what I have seen, anything on a business computer belongs to that business. The NP IT department is pretty efficient about making sure the hard drives only have NP licensed programs on them and routinely check all the computers. It is not an oversite. As Barney is no longer employed by the NP I think the bigger issue is that NP management has not removed his email address which means they probably have not removed others. I think that is a bigger issue and involves ethics (or lack there of) more than anything. Can someone from the legal community comment on this?

11/19/2006 4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know the legalities on business emails, but from what I have seen, anything on a business computer belongs to that business. The NP IT department is pretty efficient about making sure the hard drives only have NP licensed programs on them and routinely check all the computers. It is not an oversite. As Barney is no longer employed by the NP I think the bigger issue is that NP management has not removed his email address which means they probably have not removed others. I think that is a bigger issue and involves ethics (or lack there of) more than anything. Can someone from the legal community comment on this?

11/19/2006 4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article but seems like more of the same. Just like TKA's hit piece this morning about the Mayor and de la Guerra Plaza. What IS the real issue with DLG? Anyone know?

11/19/2006 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Barney's News-Press e-mail is company property.

The inference that TKA drew however, that Barney is a stringer for the National Enquirer was nuts, however. One gathers acquaintances and colleagues throughout one's career, and actually I'd expect an Enquirer reporter to be rather agressive in pursuing old acquaintances when on a story. Says very little about Barney.

11/19/2006 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The AJR story is wonderful as far as it goes, but misses some key points. Wendy's meddling with the news (through Cole and Fleet) was evident early on yet and should have resulted in massive resignations four years ago. So why didn't that happen in 2002? The news staff (apparently blinded by the star power of Jerry Roberts) swallowed its concerns. Bad move. It's hard to feel too sorry for those individuals when it's apparent that the early sacrifices of editors Parsons, Bolton, Chavarria and the rest seem to have bought the news staff four extra well-paid years to find new jobs. Secondly, the article goes way too easy on Joe Cole and Will Fleet. This pair of know-nothings shamelessly did Wendy's dirty work before meeting their well-deserved end. Their complete misunderstanding of business and journalism helped to put the News-Press in its current sorry state.

11/19/2006 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK---so now TKA's paranoia is leading him to conclude it's Marty Blum's "bias" against the N-P that is leading to proposals to remodel de la Guerra Plaza?

Sara---- this certainly warrants a post--- I mean your NAMESAKE plaza being drawn into the scary place that is Armstrong's "mind"......

11/19/2006 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

The American Journalism Review article is a fetid slag heap of discredited information, poorly sourced accusations, bias and agenda-pushing, and selective misuse of facts.

For example, in reporting circulation numbers at the News-Press, the author suggests that the newspaper's transition period is responsible for declining circulation. The article fails to mention that the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle (Jerry Roberts' old employer) experienced steeper declines in circulation than the News-Press. Could it be they are alienating readers by slanting the news? Well-researched, huh?

The rest of the article rehashes old accusations in a one-sided manner, even stooping so low as to dignify the childish taunts from News-Press critics in forums such as this one.

More troublingly, the author clearly engaged in tortious interference in employment contracts by repeatedly and harrassingly contacting News-Press managers in an attempt to induce them to reveal proprietary information. The News-Press does not take this kind of tortious interference lightly, nor statements from disgruntled ex-employees that appear to breach their ongoing obligations to Ampersand.

11/19/2006 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the " ARTICLE " hit nail on the head.
It's a great article good objective reading and an informative pice that historians can use in the future to refer to.
Anyone the that takes the time to put the pices together will come up with the same facts....it is all there for the world to see.

11/19/2006 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Hmm... said...

Mr. Flynn (I know how N-P types love courtesy titles), while it is true that circulation has declined at most newspapers, I'm guessing that only the News-Press was the target of a cancellation drive.

I also love the veiled threat of more lawsuits -- as if more bullying will make this mess go away.

As for the reporter's alleged harassment of your poor managers... It is a reporter's job to get the other side of a story. Even if those attempts are thwarted, even wire stories note that they were made. Should the day come when the News-Press once again attempts serious investigative reporting, I hope a business doesn't decide to sue your reporters simply because they tried to do their jobs.

11/19/2006 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard Towbes has some below minimum wage jobs, pounding nails into affordable housing.

Do you have to speak spanish?

11/19/2006 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Big Fat Friend of Truth said...

The Truth hurts, eh "Nelville"?

11/19/2006 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't ever change, Nelville.

When people are stressed out from the hard realities of life, your fantasy missives always are good for a laugh.

11/19/2006 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 8:39 The exodus started early and was slow and steady. Wendy would entice and editor to take a leadership position by making them promises of support and pretending to encourage editorial freedom. It didn't take very long before they would do something she didn't like and would start dictating policy to them and remove support. She did it to Bemis, MacFadyen, Van de Kamp, Roberts, Todd and others. When Roberts arrived it was a very hopeful time but it didn't last long. Wendy can be very seductive and Roberts, Cole and Fleet bought into it for a while. There is a lot of employee loyalty to the paper and community so most hung in hoping it would get better. In July it became obvious even Roberts couldn't keep Wendy out of the Newsroom so things came to a head and have just gone downhill from there.

To Nelville: Would you like some cheese with your whine? NP management was given ample opportunity to present their side in the article and management still refuses to communicate except through the venomous rantings of Agnes Huff and Travis Armstrong. Until NP management can open constructive communication with the employees and community, your rantings are just that- RANTINGS.

11/19/2006 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville Flynn: The News-Press does not take this kind of tortious interference lightly, nor statements from disgruntled ex-employees that appear to breach their ongoing obligations to Ampersand.

Looks like someone's been reading the legal dictionary during their morning business...

Why not just come out and say that anyone who signs an employment contract with Wendy McCaw and Ampersand Publications has given up claim to their immortal soul, in perpetuity, and henceforth bears her Mark of Ownership?

11/19/2006 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found a new memo from Wendy McCaw in the recycling bin here, dated 11/2/06. It admonishes News-Press reporters to never ask a question of any person whatsoever without first getting written clearence of said person's attorney... never know what kind of confidentiality agreement the person might have and with whom.

11/19/2006 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TO: All Media
DATE: Nov. 20, 2006


SANTA BARBARA KICKS OFF “HEROISM IN JOURNALISM” FILM FEST
Opening night on December 9 will raise funds for beleaguered News-Press journalists

The first-ever journalism film series in Santa Barbara will open December 9 with a free screening of “All the President’s Men,” a 1976 movie that celebrates truth in reporting and the courage it takes to get the story out. In the film, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman star as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal under the Nixon administration.

A reception before the movie will help raise funds for Santa Barbara News-Press journalists, past and present, who are under attack from Wendy McCaw, the News-Press owner and co-publisher.

Thirty reporters and editors have left the paper since early July.

“All the President’s Men” will screen at 6:30 p.m. December 9 in the Marjorie Luke Theatre at Santa Barbara Junior High School, 721 E. Cota Street. Admission will be free. Coffee and treats will be served after the screening.

Before the movie, from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., the public is invited to attend a reception at Arnoldi’s Café, 600 Olive Street, to meet the News-Press journalists. Admission will be $50 per person. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served. All proceeds will go to the Journalists Loan Fund, offering no-interest loans to News-Press reporters and editors who have been forced out or fired by Wendy McCaw.

The film and the reception will feature several guest speakers, including Ann Louise Bardach, an investigative journalist who writes for The Atlantic Monthly and other publications; Lou Cannon, the biographer of Ronald Reagan; Howard Rosenberg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former television critic for the Los Angeles Times, and Sander Vanocur, a former correspondent for ABC and NBC News.

“All the President’s Men” will be the first in an intermittent film series in Santa Barbara honoring the men and women who report the news “without fear or favor of friend or foe” — the motto of former News-Press publisher and Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas M. Storke. The December 9 events are hosted by the organizers of the Journalists Loan Fund and sponsored by Sara Miller McCune, Dave Peri and Arnoldi’s Café, and The Fund for Santa Barbara.

To make a reservation for the reception or to send a donation to the Journalists Loan Fund, please contact Sue Broidy, the treasurer, at 640-7340 or sbroidy@ojai.net.

11/20/2006 4:09 PM  
Anonymous philosoph said...

It sort of irks me that these people are treated as heroes for leaving their jobs when there are plenty of lower-paid workers being exploited every day or losing their jobs to automation or cheaper overseas labor.

Wendy McCaw and her people are clueless tyrants, I get it. But shouldn't community donations and support go toward those who really need it?

11/20/2006 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great idas!
Hope see everyone there giving their support.

11/21/2006 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville:

So what crimes is Business Week guilty of?

http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/nov2006/db20061120_567825.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_companies

11/21/2006 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a supporter of the union effort, and someone who despises all what Wendy stands for in this mess, I'm afraid I have to agree with Philosoph. The fund to help repressed journalists is mostly a part of the PR campaign. It scores points by existing. There is a good cause here that I wholeheartedly support, but as far as charity dollars, I give elsewhere to the really needy.

By far most of the former NP employees have gotten jobs, often with bigger and better-paying newspapers in Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles. I know of other newspapers interested in hiring people who've lost jobs at the NP. Some of those not employed are that way deliberately as they assess what to do next. I do know of at least one who can be said to be struggling, but not struggling in the way of the people who are the recipients of MY charity dollars.
I'm not minimizing the wrong done to these people, who've been forced or rightly felt forced out of jobs they had for many years at a newspaper and community they loved. But I like to say the truth as I see it, and if someone can give me evidence I'm wrong here, I'm all ears.

11/23/2006 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Philosoph and Anon 10:27,

Donate or not as you wish, but remember this is a LOAN fund. This money has to be paid back, which recognizes that these folks are professionals capable of finding future employment. It's charity, yes, but not a straight handout. Reporters and rank and file editors are hardly the highest paid subjects across departments at any paper, believe it or not. Given the high price of SB, many live paycheck to paycheck. It's not a PR campaign, but rather a way for people to say 'thanks, and here's a helping hand for the interim.' Those at the paper, currently or formerly, did not think this up. It came to them from the community.

It's my understanding that unused money in this fund will roll over into the legal defense fund aimed at journalists sued by Wendy P. McCaw. I would hope you see that as a worthy cause, because it certainly is.

11/24/2006 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a fund to sue the City over the St. Francis Fiasco...

12/01/2006 4:10 PM  

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